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lostgirl12's avatar

Is it me or does everyone feel lost on their first day of work?

Asked by lostgirl12 (63 points ) August 17th, 2010

Ok.. so my problem is that I have just graduated in finance. And I have got decent grades in my final year too. But somehow I feel like I haven’t learnt anything from the university. I have got a decent internship in one of the most reputed companies in the world. Mind you… I didn’t get it on my own… I got it through contacts and I feel like I don’t deserve to be here and whatever work I am getting I am lost.. utterly and completely lost whereas everyone else seems to know what they are doing.. I don’t know if it is really the problem that I don’t know anything or is it because I have kept it in my mind that I dont deserve this job and am letting that thought get in my way. Help! I need to turn my life around… I have never felt so lost in my life!!!

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13 Answers

Cruiser's avatar

Transitioning from the classroom to the real world is surreal at best and IMO quite normal to feel an awkward disconnect from what awaits you at the new job. Also bear in mind that to move up in the career world it is very often who you know and not what you know. You can’t see this as the case since you are just starting out, but when you look back on this you will realize the importance of this fine little detail they don’t teach you in school. Good luck with the new job and knock em dead!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

It is normal, yes.
And it isn’t helping you any. So take a deep breath, give yourself a compliment and a big pat on the back. It will be much easier if you keep your head clear and focused.

Good luck to you, I’m sure you’ll be great. :)

Frenchfry's avatar

It takes awhile to get used to doing everything that they expect of you. Take it in slowly. They will understand, if you don’t get it right the first time. Ask alot of questions. Don’t be afraid. Get good sleep it helps to keep you focused Good Luck!

lostgirl12's avatar

@everyone… Thanks guys.. needed to hear that its normal to feel this way..

BarnacleBill's avatar

I’m in my 50’s, and when I changed industries 10 years ago after working full time since I was 19, I felt exactly that same way. To make it worse, everyone spoke in acronyms, and sent out e-mails full of acronyms; it took me a full 6 months to feel like I knew what the heck everyone was talking about.

When you’re right out of school, it’s hard enough the first week to figure out which health plan to choose, where you can find supplies, and who sits where. Take it slow, ask questions, be on time for meetings, take good notes. Every day you will learn something new, and have more questions.

As a recent college grad, they didn’t hire you because you would walk in and know what to do. They hired you because you can think and learn. Do that, and you will be fine.

Like @Frenchfry said, get plenty of sleep. Also eat a little breakfast.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@lostgirl12 Don’t sweat it. University and real world are completely different. It took me about 9 months to learn to really get in there and apply myself at work. Lucky for me my boss gave me some time to learn. What did it for me was I was asked to take over another lender’s territory, as well as my own, on a temporary basis (ended up being almost a year). Having two workloads challenged me, I dug in and got going.
Oh excuse me for lacking manners: Welcome to fluther!

Ame_Evil's avatar

Err, here – have this psychological analysis free on the house :D.

What you are experiencing is a pretty normal reaction. You are being bombarded with too much new information and it is going to make you feel uncomfortable. Along with trying to learn a new job you are meeting new people and in a new environment which you are uncomfortable with. You will gradually develop as time passes just like learning a new skill. You are at first confused with everything on offer (such as loads of new terms, different styles etc), and then as your mind processes and makes the necessary links to improve accessibility to information, you filter out stuff you have learnt out of consciousness because you have learnt to do that automatically.

Eventually you’ll reach a point where you have learnt all the fine details and are just facing the challenges that come with your job.

Btw when you mention other people, I assume you mean people who have been working there for a while? If not and they are the same age you could just be misinterpretting their behaviour. I’m pretty sure they are freaking out a little inside as well.

I hope that made sense, if not I can clarify anything.

Oh yeah, as mentioned, ask questions when you are uncertain of something. Most people don’t mind in the workplace and will understand. Just make sure you aren’t always asking questions – and perhaps try to balance it out with other talk.

marinelife's avatar

Take a deep breath. Tell yourself that you do belong in the job. Repeat it out loud several times in front of the mirror even if you don’t believe it. DO that every morning.

There is a vast difference between theoretical knowledge and real-world knowledge. It is normal that you would feel overwhelmed at first.

Just ask a lot of questions in the beginning.

JLeslie's avatar

Everyone does. You are in one of the toughest, and most uncertain times of your life right now, don’t feel alone, it is very common to feel unsure and nervous. This is a big transition, not just a new job, but basically the beginning of your adult life, adult responsibilities.

Even people who have been working in their field for 20 years, when they start a new job they are in a learning curve, learning the company, learning their procedures, learning the corporate culture in that office, learning exactly what their job requirements are, learning the computer system if there is an intranet, learning all sorts of stuff. I doubt you stand out as someone who just graduated from school, mostly you are probably viewed as the new guy, like many other new guys, everyone has been new at some time, most people understand and will be patient for a few weeks as you learn what your role is.

Smashley's avatar

It’s not just you, and University teaches you very little about workplace dynamics, and how to cope with new and stressful situations. The internship process is good, because it serves as a stepping stone from school to a career. Imagine if you felt this stressed about a new job, but actually were relying on the paycheck to pay your mortgage!

In reality, University much more like high school than it is like working, so it’s only natural to feel a shock. Even when I worked my first day cooking breakfast at a restaurant, I felt so ridiculously out of place, that I wasn’t sure I could handle it, but I kept at it, went for long walks when I felt stressed about my job, and pretty soon I was running the show.

Nothing can truly prepare you for a new work situation besides confidence. Realize that you have a lot to learn, and that every one of your co-workers was equally lost on their first day, and they aren’t more qualified than you, they’ve just been there longer, end of story. In some work cultures, there is even a specific pressure put on the new person to see if they excel or collapse. It’s a feeling out process for you and for them. Learn, communicate, and adapt, and you’ll be comfortable in no time.

Austinlad's avatar

I always tell new employees, Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how “silly” you may think they are. No one expects (or at least should expect) a new employee to know everything, and most managers and co-workers are eager to share their knowledge. Be friendly, be inquisitive, be modest, show initiative, doesn’t hurt to come in early and stay late, and I guarantee that first-day newness will wear off quickly.

wundayatta's avatar

Isn’t there anyone who is supposed to mentor you? Didn’t anyone show you around—where the coffee can be found… where the rest room is?

Well, if not, it’s pretty typical. Sink or swim. I don’t know why so many companies pay so little attention to training. How can you know how they do things if you get no training?

Like others have said, college is a very different environment, and unless you’ve had an internship, you really have little preparation for work. In college, it’s all theoretical and generic knowledge. At work, it’s practical and specific and you don’t know it yet!

If they haven’t provided training for you, then you have to get your own training. Bug everyone for help. Don’t worry about bothering them. You need assistance, and you need to do whatever you can to get it. If nothing else, they’ll help you out just so they can get back to their work. But they may be sympathetic. After all, they were newbies once, too.

Also, don’t feel bad because you got your job through contacts. Everyone else did, too. That’s the way most work is. You get a job because you know someone.

So don’t feel bad for yourself. Reach out for training and then get moving!

Austinlad's avatar

Having a manager or co-worker with the time and inclination to mentor a new employee is great and certainly to be wished for, but absent that (and in both small and large company I’ve worked for, it is too often absent), I encourge the new employee to reach out. It’s not easy for a beginner to do that, but it’s a vital career skill.

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